Joshua Ebert

Trail Runner | Misadventurist | Storyteller

Month: April 2016

Managing My ADHD With Adventure

Story of the

This is a topic I have been bouncing around writing about for a while. I’m partially motivated to write about my experience with ADHD because of my friend René’s blog “Black Girl, Lost Keys.” Another motivator was a recent article in Outside Magazine “ADHD Is Fuel for Adventure” by Florence Williams. I thought I would share some of my experiences and how I have coped with my ADHD.

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5 Adventure Stories You Should Read

So I thought I would share some of my favorite adventure stories that I have read over the years. I did not want to focus on the obvious ones like Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air,” “Into the Wild,” or John Muir’s “My First Summer in the Sierra.” Instead, I wanted to give you books that you may have overlooked.

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Over the weekend, I watched the documentary “Jumbo Wild.” It is about the debate as to whether they should build a ski resort in the Jumbo Valley of British Columbia. The film does not actively attempt to vilify anyone but shows you the point of view from the developers and the activists. For the First Nations people, it is about protecting a sacred area while the conservationists feel that these wild places need to be preserved. This got me thinking about our struggles to the South of the border.

Here in the United States, there has been a renewed call to remove large tracts of public lands from under federal management. Some proponents argue that the states are better suited to manage these lands. Many have ulterior motives such as selling off the mining or timber rights to bolster states’ budgets. Others just feel the state is better situated to understand and manage the land around them. Even this concerns me as many public lands cross state borders this puts the federal land managers in a better position to see the big picture with management goals.

As state versus federal control has come up in the public debate I thought I would attempt to make a case for keeping these lands protected. Here are a few points I wanted to make:

  • They are public lands, not government owned lands: While some places such as military bases and government facilities are restricted from public access, most public lands are managed to provide equal access. Some people think that means that they can use these lands for their profit, which leads to most arguments over public lands. What public lands really means is that they are managed to provide access to everyone. That’s hunters, fishermen, ranchers, hikers, runners, and mountain bikers alike. While some activities may be restricted in areas, that is typically done to protect a threatened species or ecosystem.
  • We should protect wilderness areas: Overdevelopment leads to a decline in biodiversity. Unless you are looking make your grandchildren’s biology class simpler by reducing the animal kingdom to sheep, horses, cows, pigs, dogs, and cats then we need to preserve the areas where wild animals live. Are we not the country where buffalo roam? We almost weren’t after a near extinction in the 1800’s. Do you really want live in a world where your children do not know “Guy on a Buffalo?”


So here are a few of the reasons I think we should protect our wild areas and possibly work on bringing green spaces back into our cities. What do you think? How often do you get out into a green space? Do you prioritize it? Please leave comments and questions below.


So I did it, I got a new pair of running shoes and they are not Salomons. I got a pair of Altra Lone Peaks. I’ve only gotten one run in them so far so we will see how they do. Time will tell how much I actually enjoy them.


We first met in Italy, you were in your second incarnation as the SpeedCross 2’s, and I was a budding half-marathoner. I fell in love with your aggressive outsoles and rugged rubberized lugs. You were the perfect temptation for someone with trail runner aspirations. I bought you even though you were a half size too small. I crammed my feet into you and loved you anyways.


Together we toured Italy, ran a race in Davos, Switzerland, and then tackled the rugged mountains of West Virginia. Even though you were too small I was happy with your performance. I converted to your brand and then I started experimenting with the rest of your Salomon family. There were packs, shorts, t-shirts, and more shoes. For over five years we’ve had an on and off relationship, sometimes I saw other shoes, but I always kept a special place in my heart for you.

Then you reinvented yourself as the SpeedCross 3, a lighter, new and improved version of your old self. I was over the moon and did not think things could get better. I continued to order you as I spent at minimum 500-miles with each pair of you. You carried me through my first ultra marathon, the Triple Lakes 40-miler. You were part of every ultra I ran after that. Frozen Sasquatch twice, Leatherwood Ultra 50-miler, Uwharrie Mountain Run 40-miler twice, and most recently the entire Mountain-to-Sea Trail (MST) 50k.


It was during the MST that I started to think about our relationship. It’s not you it’s me. For these past 6-years, I have been making myself fit into you. This is not how a relationship with a shoe is supposed to work! You are supposed to fit me.

I found my feet hurting a lot, more than I think they should during an ultra, so I started to question if you were actually right for me. Yes, my feet will always hurt, but maybe another shoe would make the hurt less. I’m not mad. I just think it is the time that we both move on.


My last pair of you is circling the 500-mile mark and I do not think I am going to reorder you. To be honest I’ve already started looking around to see what my options are.

I want you to know I will not badmouth you to my friends or other runners I meet. I will just say that we both moved on. It will be difficult at first because for so long I’ve told people I’m a SpeedCross guy. It will be a major change of my identity. No longer will I be Josh the SpeedCross runner. It will be hard because I would always tell people there were no better shoes, and to me, this was true because I did not stray much from you.


Going forward I will be judging all future shoes by your technical capabilities. I just need to find a pair that fits me better. I hope it will not be awkward when we see each other at races or REI.

Thank your for all the miles and adventures but I must look out for my feet.

P.S. I hope you do not mind but I plan to still see your sister, Sense Mantra. She will never replace you, but she is great for an easy jaunt.

Race Report: The Mountain-to-Sea Trail 50k


This race will go down as my worst race so far because of the choices I made leading up to it. First, I picked up some sort of bug that knocked me down for a few days and left me with a persistent cough making it challenging to breath while running. This caused me to barely do any running for the three weeks prior to race day. Second, I attended the Beer and Bacon Festival the day before the race. While I promised myself I would practice moderation going into the event, the reality of a festival filled with great tasting beverages and bacon proved to be a mighty temptress. Lastly, I decided to attend a festival after-party, which led to more drinking and getting very little sleep before the race. So yeah, I stacked the deck against myself on this one.


Here I am making bad pre-race choices.

The Mountain-to-Sea Trail (MST) 50k is an out and back race that follows the MST along Falls Lake from Blue Jay Point Park to Falls Lake Dam. The course varies from nice pine straw laden smooth sections to a series of rock and root covered climbs and descents. The course is not particularly technical but has a few challenging sections. It is a great course for first timer ultra runners.

The morning started with a much-deserved hangover headache. I switched between pounding water and coffee trying to shake the previous day off. Just before leaving the house around 5:15 a.m., my stomach decided to riot. I chalked it up to nerves and figured it would settle once I got going. My wife, Silvia, and I headed out driving through the early morning to Blue Jay Point. As if my iPhone knew what I needed most it played “F*** Those Who Go Untried” by Small Town Riot. This song became a bit of a mantra for me during the race.

We got there with plenty of time to check in and visit the bathroom one last time before the race. I started to feel better as my adrenaline kicked in but I had not prepared for the morning temperatures. It was 32-degrees (F) at the starting line and I had only really thought through my plan at the daytime high of 56-degrees. I was clad only in a light long sleeve shirt and a kilt. Oh yeah, I decided to try running in a kilt.


For my birthday, my wife got me a JWalking Designs Running Kilt. They say that you should not try anything new on race day, but with only one 6-mile run of experience, I decided to go all in with the kilt. The kilt is made of lightweight, moisture-wicking material that makes it barely noticeable. As I ran the material flowed around me allowing air to circulate and kept the material fairly dry. Since it was not a hot or humid day I don’t know if this is a common benefit of the kilt over shorts that tend to stay soaking wet. For a more in-depth review, I suggest you check out Trail and Ultra Running’s review.

The race began with the ringing of a cowbell and we were off. I started out trying to take it easy knowing I was not in good shape. The key to finishing this race was going to be pacing. I fell in with two guys whose pace was less aggressive than I typically would run in the beginning of a race. This allowed me to conserve energy for later in the race.


The guys were great to talk to. This was their first ultra so we chatted about strategy and then shoes (I’ve previously found this is the number one icebreaker for runners). We hung together till the 6-mile aid station. I stopped to refill one of my bottles and to get some Tylenol from my wife. I was already experiencing pain, which was not a good sign. I took off pushing forward towards the turnaround.


I seemed to be doing okay but I was hesitant to take in any calories because of my morning stomach issue. Finally, I broke down and ate a Clif Bar. Clif Bars are usually my go to for a pick-me-up during a race. While I did not pay attention to how old it may have been, I did notice that it was misshapen and the oil had separated out of it. This may have been the cause of distress later on.

My strategy for an ultra is to break it up into chunks. I had not spent a lot of time planning for this race so for me it was all about the turn around point. As I have run this section of the trail several times, I was fairly familiar with the terrain and found that it was all blurring together. I do not know if this helped me or not. One thing I did improve on from past races was that I spent less time at the aid stations. I did hit my target time of reaching the turnaround between two-and-a-half and three hours.


After the turnaround, I found that my condition had begun to deteriorate. I was suddenly struck with my stomach issues again. This caused me to have to quickly locate a fairly isolated section of the woods to deal with my issue. Once dealt with, I felt fairly good to go but I was getting stiff.

I have to attribute my stiffness to dehydration caused by both carousing the day before and the three-week hiatus from running. This became demoralizing, as I would run for what I felt was a decent bit only to check my Garmin watch and find that I covered less than a 10th of a mile. Still I pushed on.

One of the best parts of the return had to be passing the people still on the first half of the 50k or running the 12-miler option. As they would notice my kilt, often their faces would light up and they’d say things like “nice kilt.” It helped me, and hopefully, them, to momentarily forget exhaustion and soreness.

It was not until the last 9-miles that I would say things came together for me. While I was not moving as well as I did the first 6-miles, I was feeling better and more motivated. I picked a guy out and overtook him, then worked as hard as I could to stay just ahead of him. This meant that I forced myself to run some hills instead of walking them. Then another runner came up and was catching up to me. He had a great downhill kick but was walking anything that had a slight incline.


This strategy activated the competitiveness in me and now I had people that I wanted to beat. I would push the downhills and shuffle up the up hills. I worried that I would exhaust myself and not have enough in the end for a final kick. This other runner’s kick was strong and would often close the gap till a hill, so I had to keep pushing on.

The final bit of the trail played with my emotions as it first led up towards the finish line before turning back downhill away from the end. As I saw the exit of the woods and heard the crowd, I pushed even harder to make it look more like normal running as I appeared from the forest. I crossed the finish line completing the race.

As usual, Bull City Running put on an excellent event. The volunteers were all amazing also. After all those hours sitting along busy roads, they remained motivated and gave encouragement. So thank you to anyone who was involved in the race!

I want to thank my wife Silvia for her love and support through this event. After my friend Terry was unable to run the race, she came out to be my supporter. She was at most of the aid stations cheering me on and taking pictures and video. With how rough I was feeling at the start, it really helped that she was there to help me push through.

Also a shout out to all my friends from Raleigh Trail Runners who cheered me on when I passed as they waited for the 12-miler to start. Thank you to Carla (who was the 2nd place women’s finisher), Scott, Kelly, Pete, and Alana (I’m sorry if I missed anyone)–it was an awesome feeling to cross that road as a bunch of people cheered your name.

Thank you for reading. Please leave your questions and comments below.

The sport of running is a bit challenging to start. I think the biggest challenge for people is that it takes awhile before you start to see improvement. Along with a large amount of time, it is also a painful process. As this study published by The Onion points out, running every day leads to years of soreness. Yet every day millions of people put on their running shoes and head out the door.


When I meet people and they learn about my love of trail running they often say they would love to run like I do. For a majority of these people, there is nothing stopping them. Truthfully it is easier to come up with an excuse not to run than it is to tie your shoes. I am very familiar with this barrier and usually the first to suggest trading a rainy run for breakfast. Even when I am running it is easily for me to come up with excuses. Things like “I’ll walk the spots with lots of roots or rock.” I’m a trail runner so most of the trail is comprised of roots and rocks.

One of my tactics to force me to run is to tell people my plans. If I plan to do a long run on Friday I talk about it. It makes feel that I have to be accountable to those I told about it. Another great tool is using programs like Strava, as they have various challenges for you to complete each month. Staying motivated is key to success in running.


The thing I notice is while people wish to complete a marathon or ultra, they typically hesitate to sign up for a race. They start building the distance up to be something bigger than it really is. Here is where it is important to take that leap. It is easy to snowball running a distance race into this monumental task. People look at the training program and cannot see how they will fit it into their busy lives.

Once you make running a part of your schedule it will begin to become more natural to you. After a few weeks, it will no longer feel alien for you to slip into your shoes and go for a run. It will become a part of your day. Then on the days where life does get in the way of your run, you will start to be bothered that you did not run.


For me, running is something that enriches my life. It allows me to explore new places, meet new people, and see the world around me through a different lens. Whenever you meet another runner you instantly have a connection with them and start talking about shoes, seriously it is a lot of talk about shoes. Whenever I travel I like to go for runs, which allow me to see the area differently because my route is not dictated by my a destination. This allows me to see areas in ways different than most tourists.

So get out there and make it a habit. Go find a race at Ultra Signup or Running in the USA, and get started on that life of soreness.


Have you ever read a book that changed your worldview? For me, it was “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Paul Abbey. This first book that I read by Abbey spawned a love for the man and the myth of “Cactus Ed,” sending me down a dozen different paths of topics of interest. So I thought I would tell you about my three favorite Abbey books from those that I’ve read so far.


I was turned on to the Monkey Wrench Gang when I was 18 or 19 years old, a very impressionable time in life. The book focuses on four individuals who come together to wage war against the destruction of the wilderness. Ultimately it culminates in them attempting to blow up the Glen Canyon Dam, something that Abbey actively campaigned against. The book is most notable for inspiring many acts of eco-sabotage since then.

What this book did for me was help me realize the importance of protecting wild areas. I loved being in wild places, but I never thought about protecting them and the wildlife that occupied them. Abbey, who was originally from Pennsylvania, fell in love with the wide expanses of wilderness provided by the American Southwest. He was afraid that the west would become crowded and overdeveloped like the East Coast and fought tirelessly to preserve it.

Next, I read “Desert Solitaire.” In this book, he flexes his philosophical muscle as he recounts his time as a backcountry ranger at then Arches National Monument. Abbey had a master’s degree in Philosophy, so he would often observe and remark upon environmentalism and society through unique philosophical lenses. This is where I was first exposed to the ideas of anarchism. I’m not talking about smashing something while drunk and listening to the “Dead Kennedys” yelling anarchy! I am talking about a more self-reliant, small community version of anarchy, which is really just an extreme version of libertarianism where governance is reduced to local government.

Edward Abbey as an anarchist did not trust the government and has some great quotes about that stance. This has led to people like Cliven Bundy and his militiamen to misuse some of his anarchist quotes. Similar to the Bundy family, Abbey too had a beef (pun intended) with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Ironically, the Bundy’s anger with the BLM was how they thought that they should be allowed to graze their cattle on public lands for free, while Abbey was angry with the BLM for allowing ranchers and other industries to destroy these lands.

“The most common form of terrorism in the U.S.A. is that carried on by bulldozers and chainsaws. It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it. Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” – Edward Abbey


Since those first two books, I have read several others. “The Brave Cowboy,” which was turned into a great Kirk Douglas film called “Lonely Are the Brave,” and “Hayduke Lives” the sequel to “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” This brings me to my third favorite book so far, “The Fool’s Progress: An Honest Novel.” This book is semi-autobiographical in nature as the main character’s life shares more than a passing resemblance to the author’s. The reader follows Henry Lightcap as he decides to return to his family home in West Virginia after his wife leaves him. Leaving Arizona on this journey, the reader is treated to memories of past romances and adventures that lead up to the current point in Lightcap’s life.

Throughout “The Fool’s Progress,” Abbey is a bit of a curmudgeon as he argues against technological progress and how society has forgotten its wild nature. One of the more memorable moments in the book is when Lightcap’s father lays out an argument against America’s involvement in the Second World War. Until then, I had never heard about people being against us joining WWII since our involvement is typically lauded and our cultural narrative is that we came in and were the heroes of the war (Note: To my readers from places other than America, I realize that the story of WWII is much more complicated than that and heroic actions are not just limited to America’s actions in the war).

Also memorable in the book is a funny bit in the beginning where Lightcap calls the nearby Air Force base’s commander to complain about fighter jets flying over his house. He identifies himself as being the rank of “Private First Class retired” and demands all honors and respect that rank deserves. As someone who served in the U.S. military, this cracked me up since Private First Class is one of the lower ranks in the rank system.

I think I identified with this book since I also grew up in rural Appalachia and longed to experience the Rocky Mountains or the Southwestern desert. For my younger self, there was a lot of hero worship of this man who was an anarchist cowboy, a rogue, and an adventurer. He did not fear to be alone in the wilderness, but instead reveled in it.

A final note: Part of growing up is realizing that your heroes are human and that you should incorporate what was good about them into your life while leaving their flaws behind. The picture that Abbey presented of himself was not entirely accurate, as he cultivated a mythology around himself. An example is that he claimed to live in rural Oracle, Arizona, when really he lived in the more urban area of Tuscan. He also advocated that people use direct action methods to preserve the wilderness but there is no evidence that he himself participated in such. The truth is that Edward Abbey was an alcoholic and a philanderer. He died in 1989 of esophageal hemorrhaging connected to his drinking and lifestyle while married to his 5th wife. Those who were close to him often had tumultuous relationships with him, as was most famously the case with Douglas Peacock. Peacock is most often cited as the inspiration for Abbey’s most famous character, George W. Hayduke. Both the character and the man were Green Berets in Vietnam who returned to the American West suffering from addiction and PTSD, angered that it was not the wild place they had left. Peacock did not like that Abbey had hijacked his story and made him an eco-warrior icon. In the end, Peacock was at Abbey’s side when he died and went on to be one of the few involved in his illegal burial.

Arches - Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey opened my eyes to see the world in a different way. The spirit of his works continues to influence the decisions I make and the lifestyle I choose to lead. That said, I do not agree with him 100-percent. For instance, I am not a radical eco-warrior nor do I agree with all their tactics. I instead believe in the democratic process and do not attempt to physically destroy public or private property. I work to advocate and educate others on why wilderness should be preserved. I am not an anarchist. I believe in society and think that a central government is necessary.

Wow! As I review this post, I realize it went long and got sort of political. This was not my intention when I started the post, but writing about Abbey and his ideas drew me back in. I continue to find him very relevant to my thinking about current issues. Also, you got to learn a bit more about what I believe.

So these are my favorite books by Abbey, what are yours? Or, is there an author that inspired your life and maybe changed how you saw the world? Please share your thoughts and comments below. Thank you for reading.

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